12/10/2010 AT 6:15 PM ET
What a difference a year makes.
Last year, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, were devastated when their baby daughter, Josie, was born at only 25-weeks-old via emergency C-section on Dec. 10, weighing a mere 1 lb, 6 oz.
“This baby is so small, I don’t think she can survive,” Michelle told PEOPLE at the time.
A year later, Josie is celebrating her first birthday, laughing, playing and clapping at a healthy 15 lbs., 12 oz. “She’s waving hello and goodbye,” says Michelle. “She’s saying da-da Her outlook is so wonderful. It is a miracle.”
According to Michelle, Josie is doing well developmentally, though she continues with monitoring and receiving oxygen when she sleeps.
“We call her our little pajama girl because she has to wear a certain kind of snap pajamas for the monitor wires,” Michelle says. “She is in 6-month-old clothes now, but we have some 9-month-old ones ready for her to grow into.”
A Family Celebration
As Jim Bob and the couple’s oldest children complete a mission trip in El Salvador, Michelle and her other children have been decorating the house and reveling in the birthday festivities.
“Because of Josie’s circumstances being so different, I’ve had to stop myself from buying too many presents,” says Michelle. “I got her some clothes. And we are probably going to pick out a riding toy too and I am going to let the older kids help pick that out when they return.”
As for other activities, Michelle has cut out a giant number 1 and all the younger kids are decorating it with bright colors. She plans to photograph Josie, her daughter Jordyn (who turns 2 on Dec. 18) and her granddaughter Mackynzie holding the cutout.
“For eight days more they will all be 1-year-old,” says Michelle. “Anna and I are thinking this is a tradition we might start now and them photograph the three of them together every year.”
Just thinking of Josie’s continued growth is a cause for Duggar-sized holiday celebrating, she says.
“It is incredible,” says Michelle. “It is a wonderful day. And it is exciting to think of the future.”